Saturday, September 16, 2006

Archaea

You may remember from class that one of the three domains of life is the Archaea (the other two are Bacteria and Eukarya). Members of Archaea are prokaryotic organisms that are usually found in extreme environments - in fact they are often called 'extremophiles'. They are found in areas of high salinity, temperature, acidity, or alkilinity. Others are found where oxygen levels are extremely low or non-existant (anoxic environments). Some very cool and very different biology going on with them (but not THAT different, which makes them even more interesting). Here are a few websites if you are interested in learning more about them:

Triumph of the archaea (an older article by Carl Zimmer, an exceptional science writer)

Intro to the Archaea

WikiPedia article on Archaea

Some biologists think that the Archaea are the base of the tree of life - that the earliest living things were Archaea (or Archaea-like) and that all other living things evolved from them. Recently there has been some debate over this sentiment as DNA evidence has come out to suggest that this may not be the case. Biology is full of mysteries and unsolved puzzles and the Archaea are one of them.

2 comments:

James said...

That is neat. I wonder why archaea are difficult to grow in culture. I mean, why not just reproduce the hostile environments that they are accustomed to? I am sure it is easier said than done, but it is ironic that the "extremophiles" are the hard ones to keep alive . . . : )

Spielah said...

I totally agree with you James. Like we were saying today, if scientists can make a vacuum in a laboratory, you'd think they could create conditions quite like the ones archaea live in. Truly some fascinating specimens, as the late great Steve Irwin would say. Well Seyonara, see everyone tomorrow